Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
September 22, 2022
Q: What is your process as a staff for making adjustments at halftime? How much time do you spend on it and how detailed is that?
A: It’s detailed. Those conversations start happening throughout the first quarter and second quarter, really as the defense presents itself. Really, if you have a two-minute or maybe you don’t have the possession, that conversation will happen between series and then those will get written down by staff and they will already be on paper as we walk into the locker room. We discuss them, make sure we’re all on the same page, and then get those adjustments to the players before moving on to half.
Q: How much is (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) running the ball almost part of the progression? It seems like he’s trying to get the backers to drop. Do you tell him if you don’t see it just take off?
A: I think he’s done a good job of seeing seems and hitting them. He’s converted on several big-time third and fourth downs for us. That’s a part of his game, he’s an athletic guy, who can get out of the pocket. You definitely don’t want to take that part of a game away from him.
Q: You guys have thrown for less than 200 yards in the first two games. There is a narrative that Daniel has not been willing to throw the ball down the field. How do you answer that in terms of his decision-making?
A: I think he’s doing a great job with the football. There was one turnover in the red zone that I’m sure he would like to have back, as we all would. I think he’s doing a great job with the football. He’s managing the game, he’s playing within the system and I think those big plays that you’re seeing, those are going to happen. You never want to go out there and force a whole bunch of things. That’s where the bad decisions happen. That’s where the turnovers happen. I think you continue to play within the system, let the system work for you and the offense work for you and then you’ll see that those things show up.
Q: Carolina was able to limit (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) a little bit in the first half last week. What can you do to create more opportunities through him when other teams do know that this offense runs through him?
A: They did a good job with that last week. This week, that’s what we’re focused on. We’re focused on putting our guys in the best spot. Communicating, we’re emphasizing communication. We’re emphasizing execution and then when we get down into the fourth quarter, down into the game, finishing games.
Q: At halftime as a play caller, to that question, Saquon has got three yards on five carries. The game is close, so you don’t have to go off script or anything but is it a battle in your head and do you ask (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) a little bit about we got to stick with it? Because sometimes these things just fade off a cliff and you got to get some yards.
A: Sure, I think it’s tying in a couple of things with the adjustments - what kind of adjustments you want to make. Communication, how we are going to get that to the players, and then the execution part of it. That’s really kind of been our emphasis this week throughout practice is getting those three things worked out.
Q: Is it kind of like, we are going to stick with the run game, but we got to change a little bit?
A: I don’t think it’s just run or pass, per se. I think you have to take advantage of what the defense is presenting and able to be flexible with the run and pass within the scheme. You don’t want to just call runs to call runs or call passes to call passes. You want to be able to have some, be multiple in that, and take advantage of what the defense is presenting.
Q: What are some of the things that you can do to start off faster in the game?
A: I think what we’re emphasizing is the communication part of it at the line of scrimmage, player to player, coach to player, coach to coach. The communication part of that and then the execution part. We’ve kind of taken a step back within ourselves and said, ‘Alright, how can we be cleaner on this scheme? How can we be cleaner detailed on these types of situations?’ That’s really been our focus, I think. If we can start to build on that, I think that’s when we’ll start seeing a faster start for us.
Q: Are there things that you can do as a play caller or play designer during the week to get (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) more involved? Or does Kenny have to adjust to what’s being called so he can have a bigger role?
A: I think there’s a mix of both. I think there’s a mix of both and every week we evaluate the matchups, we evaluate the defense, we evaluate our personnel and where they’re at. That’s just part of our process as an offense.
Q: Earlier this week, I asked Dabs about this. It’s almost a league-wide question as much as it is for you guys. 10 years ago, some of the bread and butter plays for your offense or other offenses in this league would be viewed as gimmicks or gadgets and nowadays it’s really go-to plays in certain situations. How have you seen the evolution of not just the execution of those plays, but also the philosophy knowing that you’re in the red-zone and these are plays that you are going to go to and it’s not going to be getting too cute?
A: Sure, sure. That’s really interesting that you say that. Specifically, when you get into the red zone, the area shrinks for you a little bit. So, you’re kind of working against the depth and you’re working with more sideline to sideline things. I think you see that around the league a little bit more is the speed sideline to sideline versus vertical just because you’re limited with space. When you see around the NFL, you see a lot of teams trying to displace defenders or influence defenders in certain ways which I think is great to see teams across the league do interesting stuff like that and try to apply it to your offense.
Q: I was looking at your bio at Northwestern and I think you said back then or at least wrote back then that visualizing is a way that you prepare for games. Do you still go back to that as a play caller now and how?
A: Absolutely. You want to take those mental reps. We kind of play a game upstairs with our staff. It’s a game that can put you in situations, you’re kind of calling it, and then based off whatever number, you roll the dice. It puts you in a different situation whether it’s minus yardage or plus yardage. You’re able to play the mental game off the call sheet and get mental reps of it and put yourself in those situations. It’s been pretty fun; we’ve been doing it for the last couple of weeks here.
Q: What have you as a staff, or you personally, told Golladay he needs to do better to earn more snaps?
A: We’ve been in good communication with Kenny. He’s done everything we’ve asked, to be honest with you. He’s done a great job and I think looking at it as a positive, he wants to be out there. He wants to play and contribute. On a week-to-week basis, like Dabs touched on, we’re evaluating those matchups, we’re evaluating how to put guys in certain spots. It might be not a lot one week, a lot more next week and we’ll kind of just go week by week and evaluate. That’s the beauty of our receiver room right now, there is a lot of competition, and they have another opportunity today to go prove themselves to add themselves to the gameplan.
Q: Is it an issue of a player isn’t playing and doesn’t seem to understand why he’s not?
A: That’s been one big part about Dabs is making sure that everything is out there in the open. We have meetings with players and let them know exactly where they stand at any point in time. This started in the spring, they have the ability to come talk to us and I’ve had conversations with Kenny about that. I feel like we’re in a good place with being on the same page with that.
Q: Would it surprise you if you were, two snaps and he wasn’t expanded this week?
A: We’re still in a Thursday practice, we still got a long way to go before Monday. We’ll continue to evaluate that.
Q: Do you still see (Golladay), the two snaps he got were red zone and he hasn’t gotten a touchdown in 17 games with the Giants, do you still see him as a red zone threat?
A: Yeah, I think any time you put on that helmet and you’re out there on the field you have to have the ability to execute what you’re called upon. Kenny has done a great job in practice, he’s working hard, he’s working his tail off this week and so I’m happy for him for that.